The monthly current affairs review from Unitas Communications
THE GLOBAL RESPONSE TO THE UK ELECTION
Unitas CEO Muddassar Ahmed analyses the reaction abroad to our new government Welcome to the second edition of Dialogue. It’s been a month of political fanfare in which we’ve seen a new coalition break the trend of oneparty Government after 65 years. Not surprisingly, the media has been kept busy, with new policies shifting the commentariat’s focus and political correspondents having to acclimatise to a team from differing ends of the political spectrum. It's now Cameron-Clegg and Osborne-Cable. Some might say, a marriage of misfits. In this month’s edition, we are delighted to bring you interviews with two experienced political voices. Al Jazeera’s Political Editor Rageh Omaar answers our questions on foreign policy whilst the Chair of National Young Labour, Sam Tarry answers questions about the future of the Labour party as it attempts to challenge the new government while electing a new leader. As the new government takes instant action to tackle the challenges of the deficit and the national media’s focus follows every move critically, less attention has been paid to how the UK’s key partners abroad as well as the foreign media view the new government. Let’s not forget that the UK is still overseeing the political transition in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as well as managing certain foreign relationships which are crucial to our objectives and those of our international partners. At Unitas Communications, we’ve been monitoring the feelings of some key players through our extensive media monitoring service. "The great similarity between Cameron and Obama – they are both essentially pragmatists." The ‘special relationship’ with the USA, the status of which always seems to provokes so much hand-wringing on this side of the Atlantic, may now be re-evaluated. Writing in The Washington Post, Marc Thiessen suggested that the great similarity between Cameron and Obama – that they are both essentially pragmatists, could prove to be the most conducive factor to them working together. A speech which Cameron delivered on the 5th anniversary of September 11th, attacking the Bush administration’s unilateral response to the tragedy as having created a breeding ground for terrorist 2
recruitment, was a critique of the administration that was remarkably similar to Obama’s own. More importantly, Cameron has described the new relationship as “solid but not slavish”. "Le Figaro identifies defence as a key area for Franco-British cooperation." The UK’s relationship with Europe is likely to be one where the coalition is tested to its limits as the Liberal Democrats are stuffed full of Europhiles, and sceptics abound amongst the Tories. David Cameron’s decision to leave the centre-right European People’s Party in 2009 and create a new coalition that contains members with extreme right views could be a particular sticking point. At the time of the coalition’s formation, Wilfried Martens, the former President of Belgium predicted trouble, suggesting ‘Merkel and Sarkozy will never accept his Euroscepticism’. Nevertheless the French press seemed to cautiously welcome Cameron’s decision to make Paris his first foreign visit as Prime Minister. Centre-right national Le Figaro newspaper saw this as evidence that Sarkozy had established himself as the principal player on the European stage. The article quotes Jacques Reland, director of the Global Policy Institute, who uses that word again to describe Cameron: ‘pragmatic’. Le Figaro identifies defence as a key area for Franco-British cooperation, as shared defence strategies means financial savings for both nations as they combat the recession. The rest of Europe will be glad that the Liberal Democrats have made their way into government, as their Europhile credentials are undisputed, with leader Nick Clegg having been in the European parliament for five years. Ironically, before they became political bedfellows, the Conservatives used an article he wrote in defence of Europe while an MEP to attack him in the run up to the election. If Europe and the United States are not necessarily to be the easiest of partners for the Lib-Con government, then what of areas where the UK has traditionally had influence? Cameron is apparently extremely keen to build stronger, more formal relationships with India. The Indian media seems to cautiously welcome Cameron’s accession. The Times of India referred to Cameron’s comments after visiting the country
the new government’s promotion of Sayeeda Warsi to the cabinet, the first Muslim woman to have that honour, has played well. Pakistani news website dawn.com quoted Warsi’s cousin Nusrat Mubhashar, who suggested that the appointment was ‘a breath of fresh air’ and an important ‘national morale booster’. This suggests Cameron’s modernisation of his party is not a mirage, and that the strength of his commitment to it has the potential to have repercussions half way across the world.
in 2006, when he said ‘in the 21st century, as the world's centre of gravity moves from Europe and the Atlantic to the South and the East, I believe it is time for Britain and India to forge a new special relationship. I attach the highest priority to Britain’s relationship with India." Tellingly, the author views a future ‘special relationship’ with Britain primarily through the prism of the greater cooperation that he predicts would ensue on tackling terrorism emanating from Pakistan. As he puts it “Cameron is of the view that Britain and India do not have to explain terrorism to each other.” "The new Government cannot afford not to look outwards as a nation and fail to deliver a coherent and thoughtful foreign policy." The Middle East is of course the region that the Labour government’s most infamous foreign policy exploits took place. It appears from the more detailed document that was launched on the 20th May, that the Tories have dominated coalition policy in this area, with the Liberal Democrat manifesto policy not to invade Iran being dropped. Some sections of the Israeli media have expressed concern that Israel and foreign policy more generally will not be a key area of focus for the new government, as overwhelming attention will be dedicated to rebuilding the economy. The Jerusalem Post published an article immediately after the coalition deal was announced expressing concerns at the Liberal Democrats’ involvement, suggesting they pose ‘dangers’. These ‘dangers’ are unlikely to be balanced by a Tory party that does not seem to have the situation in Palestine high on its priority list – as the article points out that the word ‘Israel’ does not appear in their manifesto. The article suggests that with the Prime Minister’s attention focused elsewhere, the ‘Arabist-oriented’ Foreign Office will find itself in a hugely powerful position. In the Muslim world,
If anything, the range of international responses to the new government, from studied indifference in Washington, political jockeying in Europe, concern in Israel to hope in Pakistan, shows that despite having to tackle enormous problems domestically, the new Government cannot afford not to look outwards as a nation and fail to deliver a coherent and thoughtful foreign policy.
CONTENTS THE GLOBAL RESPONSE TO THE UK ELECTION
INTERVIEW: RAGEH OMAAR
INTERVIEW: CHAIRMAN OF YOUNG LABOUR, SAM TARRY
IRAN'S NUCLEAR DEAL
CULTURAL CENTRE NEAR GROUND ZERO
THAILAND IN CRISIS
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE MUSLIM MPS IN THE NEW PARLIAMENT
MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA
MOHAMMED AMIN: INTERVIEW IN THE SAMOSA
INTERVIEW: RAGEH OMAAR
The Al Jazeera English Political Editor and former BBC Foreign correspondent analyses the foreign policy outlook What foreign policy issues will be the most pressing in William Hague’s in-tray? What do you think are the ones that should be the most pressing? Iran is an obvious one, but I don't think it will come to a head, Tehran faces too many critical domestic tussles of legitimacy. How to withdraw from Afghanistan will become messier. Some form of negotiated formula that includes the Taliban can't be avoided - but this will take time because Obama has invested so much political capital and presented it as very much "his war to solve". And Israel/Palestine will become even more of an international focus. The Obama administration & Netanyahu government will come to blows even more publicly - and the West will inch its way towards dealing with Hamas openly. I don't think there is the domestic political will within Israel to face the existential question of how it can be both exclusively Jewish and democratic. How worried should the US and Europe be about Iran’s nuclear programme? Can Turkey & Brazil play a meaningful role in future negotiations? It all seemed so clear cut in early 2009. The new Obama administration held out possibility of real engagement with Tehran. Public mood in Iran was excited in anticipation of new opening. Then the June 2009 elections happened - and everything has been in a tail spin since. How far US should worry about Iran nuclear issue is as much to do with domestic US politics. There is no military answer to stopping such a programme. But the danger is in turning a multilateral approach to negotiating & pressuring Iranian regime - into confrontation with Iran by US, UK and Israel. I believe this is what Iranian regime hope for - so they can turn nuclear issue into nationalist one and silence/crush opposition internally. Ultimately Turkey and Brazil can only be facilitators, and much needed ones, for a new channel - but the decisions on any deal will be made in Washington Can Britain still play a useful role in mediating the Arab-Israeli conflict? If so, what is that role? No. I'm afraid that there is no point even asking that question post Iraq. The long myth of UK's role as "honest broker" completely vanished with London's role in the Iraq invasion which is overwhelmingly viewed in Arab world as being as just as violently partisan in affairs of Middle East as US. I genuinely have not met any UK diplomat who has told me he or she believes UK can now play such a role. Quite the opposite. More often than not I am asked to events/talks/conferences about how UK should improve its image in Arab world. What was New Labour’s greatest foreign policy achievement? Increasing our Aid and Development to poorest nations and using UK's voice in the world to put the issue on the global agenda. Has the Iraq War irrevocably damaged the UK’s relationships with countries in the Middle East? Which countries does the UK have the best chance of working effectively with? Irrevocably? That's just a smidgen too hard a word. I think one should never say never - but it has come pretty close to irrevocable. Once again in the Arab world - the viewpoints of its governments, all of whom are undemocratic - is completely different from public opinion. Arab rulers will continue to work closely with the UK on a number of issues to do with their regimes's survival, security, fighting any Islamist movement etc...But in terms of Arab public opinion, the UK is always subservient to Washington. 4
What foreign policy conflicts that the public are not yet fully aware of have the potential to erupt into flashpoints? For us in the UK, Somalia (my own country) and wider Horn of Africa. It is a new front for Al Qaeda and is actively (and succesfully) recruiting young Somalis in the West, especially the US, UK and Scandanavia. In South Africa, economic divisions along race lines and deepening along political faultlines and the ANC's inability to do anything about it is growing. Egypt, who will succeed Mubarak - another father-to-son succession as in the rest of the Arab world? If so, what will be the impact on domestic stability in a country where the Muslim Brotherhood has benefited from economic disparities and endemic corruption. Does Turkey have the potential to become a global player on the international stage and why? If yes, what will it take to make that a reality? Yes, it is already. Because the AK party has a vision of Turkey's role in the world. As a democratic, Muslim country in Europe, and it's a vision that is opening doors to its influence everywhere. They will have more embassies around the world this year than the UK. Africa is beginning to listen to Ankara. Turkey's trade with Arab countries, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon etc...is booming. And what's more, they've shed the chip on their shoulder about trying to get into the EU, which began to look like an obsession. They are now presenting themselves as a power which Europe needs (especially in the Muslim world rather than the other way round. Do you see the a ban on veils spreading from countries like France and Belgium across Europe within the next few years? Yes. it's been turned into a populist totemic policy for European countries who do not believe in concept of multiculturalism. It's an easy thing to do and wins votes in Europe. I think banning of minarets will make headway as well. What should the US-UK exit strategy for Afghanistan be? Should there be an exit strategy? I think both governments have explored the key ingredients for an exit strategy - the problem is its just not one that'll be easy to present to their publics - ie a formula which will see most of the elements that make up Taliban support being included in power. The British and US public will ask what all the fighting and dying has been for if those who have fighting us are now included in an Afghan government. It's important to remember that the armed opposition to NATO in Afghanistan which is widely but inaccurately called the Taliban is made up of groups beyond the Taliban - they span the entire Pashtun nation. And any cobbled together formula that allows the US and UK to get out of Afghanistan will, I fear, dissolve into feuding and fighting once NATO forces have left. How can the international community help Somalia stabilise? What is it doing at the moment? At the moment it is providing very basic active support to the UN backed transitional government in Somalia, which is doing little more than surviving against the Al Shabaan/Al Qaeda attack. The problem is that the transitional government is being held back by many internal failings and so the international community is not coming through with the support that it needs to. This is a short-sighted policy. If the TFG falls - who will Washington, London and Brussels deal with - Al Qaeda in Mogadishu?? Can you name the positives and negatives to come out of the recent elections in Iraq? Well firstly that they were held and many people voted. Secondly that a contested election in the Arab world went to a recount that didn't dissolve into a free-for all and the army taking over. But apart from that Iraq is still in a deep mess, Al Qaeda is still strong there 7 years after the invasion, and what is re-emerging in Iraq is a state underpinned by sectarianism and a burgeoning secret police. For all the procedural successes of the elections they cannot make up for the substantive and profound problems and contradictions within Iraq. 5
WHO IS ISRAEL'S PR FOOLING?
Sabilah Eboo examines the international response to Israel's decision to storm the flotilla bringing aid to Gaza Israel’s Monday attack on a flotilla of ships that set sail from Cyprus carrying 10,000 tonnes aid supplies to the Gaza strip has resulted in an international diplomatic crisis involving the UN Security Council. The aid ships, representing the ninth and largest convoy of international supplies for Palestinians, were bound for the coast of Gaza in part of an ongoing attempt to work around Israel’s three year blockade of Gaza that began in June 2007 when Hamas took control of the area. Israel claims it began the blockade to hold Hamas "responsible and accountable" for rocket attacks on Israeli towns and hoped to restrict the influence and power of the organisation. Since that time, Israel has only allowed limited humanitarian supplies from aid organisations into the strip. The blockade prevents Gaza from importing any goods, putting a crippling squeeze on the local economy, and restricts imports to a bare minimum.
highlights how easy it will be to conflate how we feel about Israel’s three year blockade on Gaza with how we feel about the actions of those on the aid flotilla (i.e., whether they were violent or not) and the attack of the Israeli soldiers (i.e., whether it was justified or not). Politicians worldwide are speaking out in response to this: in addition to Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish minister for External Affairs and Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has slammed the loss of life as "absolutely unjustified," while EU president Herman Van Rompuy said the deaths were "inexplicable," and the bloc's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton vowed to intensify European efforts to get Israel to lift its Gaza blockade. Cuba denounced the "criminal attack," Venezuela's firebrand President Hugo Chavez condemned what he said was a "brutal massacre," and the World Council of Churches said Israel had brazenly flouted international law. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak condemned the "excessive and unjustified force" while The UN estimates that of the 1.5 million people Jordan, the only other regional power to have a living in Gaza, 60 per cent are short of food, with peace treaty with Israel, handed in a protest seven out of ten living on less than $1 a day and note. British Foreign Secretary William Hague six in ten having no daily supply of water. called for Israeli restraint and supported an Amnesty International has dubbed the blockade impartial UN inquiry despite White House "collective punishment,” and UN officials have attempts to block it. described the situation as "grim", "deteriorating" and a "medieval siege", but Israel continues to UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon called for claim that there are no shortages in Gaza, Israel to “urgently” explain itself, and even pointing to the aid it allows in. As the blockade is Greece withdrew from joint military exercises still officially supported by the US, there is scant with Israel in protest. Finally, PM Cameron hope of an immediate lift despite the expressed his regret at the loss of life and urged international pressure arising from Israel’s illegal for a UN inquiry. Suffice it to say that with attack, despite the fact that the attack took politicians around the world loudly condemning place 25 miles beyond the borders of the the attack, many of us already know how we maritime blockade. In fact, Press TV Presenter feel about the situation. The real matter at hand and director-filmmaker Hassan Ghani reported is to discuss the examples emerging thick and from the Marmara, “We are being hit by tear fast from many Israeli papers, that we need to gas, stun grenades. We're being attacked from examine as the elephant in the room – Israel’s every single side. This is international waters and long-standing and deep PR initiatives and ability not Israeli waters, not in the 68-mile exclusion to re-frame key situations on their terms. The zone. We're being attacked in international biggest question emerging from the tragedy of waters completely illegally." the flotilla attack will thus be whether everybody, from senior politicians to Israel plans to continue to uphold the blockade policymakers to delegates to Israelis themselves on the basis of ‘safety,’ claiming that it needs to who we hope would want to treat their assure no materials enter the strip that could be neighbours better, can see past the PR. used to harm Israeli civilians. What’s worse is, it seems they’ll get away with it. Yesterday’s post Israel HaYom, a daily paper, published today an on the Conservative Home site quite rightly article citing that the ships’ “humanitarian aid”
(put in quotes in the article itself) consisted of knives, metal, slingshots, and masks and that there were “very meagre humanitarian supplies” on board. The article justified the attack on the convoy by claiming that it would have been “impossible to stop [the aid deliverers] any other way” and that “under the circumstances, the soldiers acted in a great way,” due to the fact that “50 organised extremists with military background were ready for battle” when Israeli soldiers boarded the ship. Another online paper, Ynetnews.com, covered Defense Minister Barak Ehud’s praise of the operation against the flotilla and his official thanks on behalf of the Israeli government, telling the soldiers who raided the ship that they “carried out [their] mission properly.” Even Haaretz’s article today on Ehud’s meeting with the soldiers described footage of the activists attacking the commandos as they boarded the ships. The Guardian’s analysis by Ian Black commented on the PR machine in full operation in Israel, and Patrick Cockburn in The Independent remarked that “nobody believes Israeli propaganda as much as the Israelis.... these PR campaigns are Israel's greatest weakness, because they distort Israelis' sense of reality. Defeats and failures are portrayed as victories and successes.” Mondoweiss, a Jewish site devoted to covering US foreign policy, reported that Israel had already embarked on PR campaigns to disprove the idea that Gaza was suffering due to the sanctions and that the humanitarian situation in Gaza was fine. Indeed,
the website for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosts an article dated May 25th titled “Behind the Headlines: The Israeli Humanitarian Lifeline to Gaza,” reporting that aid travels from Israel to Gaza six days a week and is distributed directly or via Gaza’s private sector – which we know has, in truth, long since collapsed. However, no one is catching Israel out on its own game – Israel’s claims of allowing aid in contradict both the presence of a flotilla of eight ships carrying 10,000 tonnes of aid AND the reports of international organisations with which Israel proudly claims to be collaborating, such as various branches of the UN and the ICRC. The only yea-sayers have been the US: the US said they ‘regretted’ the loss life but stopped short of specifically condemning Israel, and at yesterday’s emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, the Obama Administration blocked attempts at the UN inquiry into the attack. It seems the US is still acting in accordance with the characteristic leeway it has long granted Israel, despite international concerns about its nuclear arsenal and the recent fiasco in which Israeli agents stole passports of guests to their country and used them to plan an assassination. Though the administration's loyalty is in some ways commendable, in this circumstance, which certainly cannot be looked at in a vacuum, we have to ask why it is keeping the US submissive to the very same PR machine churning out stories to pacify Israelis into believing that nothing at all is wrong.
New Yorkers protest against Israel's attack on the Gaza aid flotilla
INTERVIEW: SAM TARRY
The Chair of Young Labour gives us his views on where the Labour party's future lies What three policies do you think will be remembered as New Labourâ€™s legacy? I think the three policies that will be remembered the most are firstly The Iraq War. Whether for or against the invasion (I personally campaigned against it very strongly as part of the Stop the War Coalition) the reality is that it broke the trust of the British people in what Labour, and our then leader Tony Blair, had to say. Losing that trust was in my mind the beginning of the end for New Labour. The war and its impact up and down this country whether in those communities most angered about it, or for those who have lost loved ones fighting there or indeed in consequent terrorist attacks on our country will never be forgotten. Labour must though find a way to atone - and to really forge, what Robin Cook called a genuinely ethical foreign policy. Secondly I believe that the massive investment into the NHS will be remembered - 135 brand new hospitals and thousands of additional clinical staff from nurses through to doctors coming out of the three new medical schools now open was a sea change from the chronic under investment of the Conservative years that left the NHS crippled. The dramatic improvement in standards and the fall in waiting times, especially for life threatening diseases like cancer. Finally I think Sure Start - because it tells two sides of a story - It was one of the first and most radical steps taken by new Labour when it came into office, it was by all accounts a success in targeting extra help at those who most need it in their early years, 13 years on and its still going strong - the Tories were forced to commit more strongly not to cut it should they win the election. However - it also tells the story of the hundreds of thousands of children lifted out of poverty, yet also those that weren't. The goals set on child poverty were not reached - and it will be the legacy of New Labour that despite its many achievements that it left society more unequal and with social mobility at a standstill. Which three backbench Labour MPs have you most admired over the last decade and why? 1. Robin Cook MP - A minister who became a conscientious objector by resigning over the Iraq war. A supporter of Electoral Reform and a genuine believer in an ethical foreign policy being a possibility. A genuine pro-European social democrat whose death with untimely - someone indeed who would be a brilliant figure for helping the party find a new course for a new decade. 2. Dennis Skinner MP - An stalwart battle axe who really sticks it to the Conservatives and always brings a smile to my face. He livens up the commons no end and I look out for his raucous interventions in PMQ's. 3. Jon Cruddas MP - An outspoken backbencher who could in the eyes of many have gone on to have been party leader should he have wished. 4. You said choose three but I cant answer without including Gisela Stuart MP for Birmingham Edgbaston. Being a full time organiser and campaigner myself, I find her efforts in mobilising community activists through innovative community organising a great example of best practice and something I'm pushing to become the gold standard of Labour party organising. Lots of people talk the talk - she has walked the walk. Which three ministers have you most admired over the last decade and why? 1. John Denham MP for supporting Barking & Dagenham Council in its campaign for a fairer deal on 8
council housing. He also took a noble stand over the Iraq war and I have to say I'm disappointed he didnt throw his hat into the ring for leadership given his insight into how we win back the South East of England. 2. Robin Cook MP - for the reasons mentioned before. 3. Mo Mowlam MP - She oversaw the signing of the historic Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. She did this whilst in the midst of a eventually fatal battle against cancer. What is the mood amongst Labour party members surrounding a) the last election b) the Labour leadership election. It's fluctuating between optimism and and a realisation of just how devastating the Conservative/Liberal cuts agenda will be - yet for the party the opportunity we have to renew the party internally in terms of its democracy, how it organises campaigns and how it re-builds itself as a movement this is an exciting time. I think that this the leadership race is yet to catch fire - but there is genuine enthusiasm for a wide ranging, hard hitting and pluralist contest that tackles all of the key issues of the new Labour era and looks ahead to how will shift our policy direction and our top down approach to party members. Its no coincidence that over 20,000 new members have joined the party since the General Election - many thousands of young people are included in this; many joining to have a say in the leadership race. What key issues will a new leader of Labour need to sort out to win the next election? Housing, Immigration (from a progressive not reactionary point of view), the management of deficit reduction in a social democratic not liberal way, finding an ethical approach to foreign policy. There will need to be a re-building of the party at the grassroots, the restoration of party democracy, a the development of a genuine vision of the good society - on which all the policies that a Labour government will need to win can be built. The Independent suggested that the endorsement of the trade union Unite (currently involved in induastruatl action with BA) would be the â€˜kiss of deathâ€™ for a candidate at the next General Election if they were to win the leadership contest â€“ is this true? Unite is not the flavour of the month in the right wing press - because BASSA - the Cabin Crew Union within Unite which has 90% of BA's Cabin staff in its membership keep voting to strike to protect their terms and conditions. I disagree entirely that is would be a 'kiss of death' - given the scale of attacks on public services that are looming the Unions will be crucial in defending these and you will see a consequent rise in Union membership and activity across the board. The Labour party is still at one level the expression of the Trades Unions and organised Labour in parliament; it hasn't really been that for a long while - but nevertheless the link is still strong and if Labour is to find it feet and tackle many of the key issues facing our country it will have to reconnect with ordinary working people in a big way. As a Labour supporter, what three Lib-Con policies worry you the most? Cuts, Cuts, Cuts. If you were the leader of the Labour party what would you use as your first line of attack in holding the new government to account? That they are putting the burden of payment for the crisis of the financial system - Cameron talked about managing the deficit through only 20% revenue raising measures and 80% cuts. When we look at the example of how Sweden managed its budget deficit in the 1990's its clear that there are fairer and more social democratic alternatives to the ideological drive to diminish the welfare state through a reduction in the public sector. I personally found it hard to stomach the Conservative policies on inheritance tax breaks for the wealthiest, at a time when those at the bottom pay the biggest proportion of the salaries in real terms in tax - compounded through regressive taxes such as VAT, or indeed the shifting of the National Insurance burden onto workers rather than employers.
KEY IRAN'S NUCLEAR DEAL THE ISSUE Iran this month agreed a deal to swap enriched uranium in echange for nuclear fuel. The agreement was brokered by Turkey and Brazil, and while China welcomed the deal, the United States rapidly moved to express their concerns. The details of the deal, as reported by Al Jazeera, are that Iran will deliver 1,200kg of the enriched uranium to Turkey, in exchange for 120kg of nuclear fuel delivered by the US, France, Russia and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iran sent a letter to the IAEA confirming the deal, and hailing it as a 'major breakthrough'. The deal has on the whole been greeted with scepticism in the West particularly due to what they see as a the hurried and undetailed nature of the announcement which suggests that Iran may not be serious about resolving the nuclear impasse.
WHAT THE PRESS ARE SAYING The LA Times breathlessly described the deal as "stunning" progress, something that The Jerusalem Post responded to directly, agreeing that the deal was encouraging but arguing that more was needed to make it a "win-win situation for everyone", and that was for Iran to answer the IAEA's questions about their programme, to make it clear that their intentions are honourable. Stephen Kinzer in The Guardian chose to focus on the way this deal reflects on Turkey and Brazil and the way that they have 'deftly' used their temporary membership of the security council. He hails their emergence as a 'global force for compromise and dialogue'. Time magazine cites the fact that Iran's nuclear reactor used to provide isotopes for medical use is about to run out of fuel as a reason to believe in their sincerity.
WHAT THE KEY PLAYERS ARE SAYING David Cameron emphasised that the deal did no change his pro-sanction stance ""I believe it is time to ratchet up..pressure, and the timetable is short. This government has a clear objective to ensure stronger UN and EU sanctions against Iran." US White House spokesman Robert Gibbs echoed those concerns "Given Iran's repeated failure to live up to its own commitments, and the need to address fundamental issues related to Iran's nuclear program, the United States and international community continue to have serious concerns," Ahmadinejad said that the international community "should welcome the major event that took place in Tehran and distance themselves from the atmosphere of pressure and sanctions"
WHAT NEXT? Britain, the US and France are unlikely to stop their push for a fourth round of UN sanctions against Iran, as they suggest it is an attempted distraction from the more serious transgressions they say Iran is perpetrating. Iran has vowed to continue with its uranium enrichment scheme, which it argues is external to this deal. It has suggested that if further sanctions are pursued then the this deal will be nullified. The proposed new sanctions include cargo ship inspections, a ban on selling heavy weaponry to Iran, controls on the international operations of Iranian banks, and further members of the Revolutionary guard having their assets frozen. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is confident that they will get the Security Council votes they need to enforce the sanctions.
Images from left to right: Iranian President Ahmadinejad, Natanz Nuclear Facility.
ISSUES CORDOBA HOUSE NEAR GROUND ZERO THE ISSUE A row has broken out over the planned construction of an Islamic Cultural Centre a few blocks from Ground Zero. There is already a mosque in the area, but it is no longer large enough to service the needs of the community. The Cordoba Group, the organisation behind the scheme, are the owners of the building, they have the right to build what they want there, but nevertheless sought the approval of the local community. On Tuesday 25th May, the Manhattan community board for the district voted 29-1 in favour, with 10 abstentions. There was a broad range of views expressed on both sides, from families of 9/11 victims or firefighters who had lost comrades in the twin towers and right-wing commentators arguing that it was an insensitive place to build, to people who argued that it would be a monument to tolerance that would help to wipe away a history of intolerance and hatred.
WHAT THE PAPERS ARE SAYING Gabriel Winant, writing on Salon.com, suggests that many opposing the building are 'Tea-Party populists' who are seeking to treat New York as the 'battleground...against a massive, faceless enemy,..Islam'. Shmuley Boteach, writing in the Jerusalem Post, suggested that it was the 'height of insensitivity' to do this, and that his solution would be to allow the mosque and centre to be built but 'let the principle focus of the building to be a museum depicting the rise of Islamic extremism'. Ed Koch, former mayor New York, wrote in the Huffington Post that 'it would sully the good name of the United States and New York City were the members of the mosque prohibited from constructing it'.
WHAT NEXT? WHAT THE KEY PLAYERS ARE SAYING
It is clear that tensions are going to continue in the run up to the building of the mosque, though it appears that the majority of the community is Mark Williams, a prominent Tea-party activist has behind the building, and that most of the serious had to retract the following statement "The opposition comes from people with a close monument would consist of a Mosque for the personal link to 9/11 or right-wing political pundits. worship of the terrorists' monkey-god...In the The Council on American-Islamic Relations has filed meantime I have a wonderful idea along the same a federal complaint against a DJ in Houston who lines as that mosque at Ground Zero thingâ€Ś a nice, told his listeners 'I hope somebody blows it up'. If shiny new U.S. Military Base on the smoldering ruins plans go ahead, the development is predicted to of Mecca. Works for me!". The Borough President cost in excess of $100m and the complex will said the vote in fabour of the centre "sent a clear contain sports facilities and a theatre as well as the message that our city is one that promotes diversity mosque. The organisers hope to officially open it on and tolerance." While the head of the Cordoba the tenth anniversary of 9/11. One further stumbling Initiative Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said "We have block is that the building that it will replace was condemned the terror of 9/11," he said. "We have subject to a decades old proposal to be given worked to ensure that our mosques are not landmark status. recruiting grounds for terrorists." 11 Images from left to right: Ground Zero at night, map of Concordia House location.
EVERYBODY DRAW MUHAMMED DAY THE ISSUE This issue has been rumbling along for a while, ever since the makers of popular cartoon South Park created an episode that contained a character that was a representation of the Prophet Mohammed. The creators then received death threats from extremists and Comedy Central, the channel that screens the show, censored the episode. Molly Norris, an American cartoonist, then drew a cartoon in response to this, suggesting that if millions of people drew the prophet, then it would be impossible for fundamentalists to kill all of them. She has since stated that this was a joke, and that she did not actually intend the joke to be taken on. However, it was and on the 20th May, Facebook groups dedicated to 'Everybody draw Mohammed Day' were created where people posted a wide variety of images, including some that were graphically sexual, or scatological. Pakistan subsequently banned Facebook, and latterly Youtube.
WHAT THE PAPERS ARE SAYING The Economist commented that this was the case of 'an annoying website creates a worrisome precedent'. Fasi Zaka, a Pakistani columnist agreed:“The one thing that Pakistan had going for it was relative freedom of expression. That’s in danger right now.” The Economist pointed out that Facebook's anti hate speech rules had 'apparently been in abeyance' on the 20th May judging by the 'offensive' nature of some of the images. Shahed Amanullah, writing in the Huffington Post argued "the participants [of the drawing day] shouldn't claim any sort of moral high ground in doing so [the drawings]. In fact, unless they are willing to push the same limits of free speech with respect to other minorities, they are nothing but hypocrites that apply collective punishment to a vast majority that did them no harm and wished no ill on South Park, and are letting their thinly-veiled hatred show in the process."
WHAT THE KEY PLAYERS ARE SAYING As the Lahore High Court passed the judgement that banned Facebook, they commented that it had been “responsible for immense hurt and discomfort”. Many leading cartoonists came out against the day of drawings, saying "I don't think it's kowtowing to be respectful of another's belief system," (San Diego Union-Tribune cartoonist Steve Breen) and "I seldom participate in staged editorial events," (Seattle Post-Intelligencer cartoonist David Horsey.) and 'Draw Muhammad Day' is a demonstration in the worst impulse for some editorial cartoonists," (Chicago Tribune cartoonist Scott Stantis.)
In the aftermath of the controversy a group of software engineers from Lahore started a Muslim alternative to Facebook called www.millatfacebook.com. On the 1st June however, Pakistan's high court ordered that access should be restored to the US based social networking site, as they had apologized for the content on the page, and had removed its contents permanently. Bangladesh had also blocked the site but is expected to restore it as long as they receive similar assurances about content of this sort. The Pakistani government has also restored access to Youtube, which it said had been posting an increasing number of videos offensive to Muslims. It has said that it will continue to block access to specific videos, while allowing access to the wider site. images, from left to right across both pages: Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg, Lahore High Court, 12 A Thai protester with a catpult, Thai soldiers in Bangkok
THE THAILAND CRISIS WHAT THE PAPERS ARE SAYING
THE ISSUE The so-called 'Red-shirt' protest movement, organised by the anti-establishment United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, started after the removal of the former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra by a military coup in 2006. He was a popular leader amongst the rural poor, and they helped vote his party back into power in his absence in elections held a year and a half after the coup. When that government was removed after a legal challenge in what protesters say are biased courts they took to the streets of Bangkok. This protest rapidly became a running battle between the country's military and the protesters, who barricaded off a section of the city. On the 19th May, the Eton-educated Prime Minister of Thailand sent the army in, resulting in serious violence. An estimated 85 people have been killed and many more injured. An arrest warrant has been issued for Thaksin Shinawatra, and the government are suing the red-shirts for ÂŁ2.1bn.
The Guardian editorial lead with the line that this 'slow burning political crisis' would teach governments that political revolt still exists in the DNA of liberal democracies. It warns that the longer the crisis continues, the harder it is to dismiss it as a battle between the rural poor and the urban elite. Instead, it suggests that the political system of the 2nd largest economy in the region is facing a major 'crisis of legitimacy'. Seth Mydans in The Hindu picks up on the silence of King Bhumibol Adulyade, "long a unifying father figure for his nation". He suggests that the crisis, is not just a fight between the red-shirts, and their yellow-shirt counterparts, but is an indication of a larger malaise that ties in with the King's advanced age, which has prompted succession worries. David Pilling, in The Financial Times, asks why there isn't much international condemnation for a government that has just killed more than 60 citizens for 'asking for elections (of all things)'.
WHAT THE KEY PLAYERS ARE SAYING
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva gave an address to the nation the day after the Red Shirt compound was stormed saying "I would like people to feel confident that my government, all officials and I strongly intend to get through this and we will return peace to the country and recover". In a subseuqent address he highlighted the importance of the country coming together, saying "[Damaged] buildings and houses can be rebuilt. But the overriding priority is to heal the mind,'' Thaksin Shinawatra, who continues to deny any links with the Red Shirts, nevertheless commented "A military crackdown can spread resentment and these resentful people will become guerrillas." Thailand's king, who is hugely respected and revered in his country, has remained silent on the violence.
The Prime Minister has offered elections in November in order to appease the protesters. He has also promised to hold an independent inquiry into the whole crisis and specifically the storming of the protestors' compound by government forces. Thaksin Shinawatra has claimed that the Interpol warrant against him by the government will be ignored internationally as it will be seen as politically motivated. There is a genune concern that this crisis will leave Thailand with bruising divisions for many years to come, and the BBC reports a 'consensus of analysts' suggesting that the Prime Minister has to make serious overtures to the leaders of the Red Shirts if he wants his government to survive without further public unrest. The crisis has had a huge effect on the Thai economy, the second largest in the region. 13
MUSLIMS IN PARLIAMENT
There are now 8 Muslim MPs in parliament, and we have profiled them all for you here
Party: Labour Constituency: Bethnal Green and Bow Majority: 21,784 In Parliament since: May 2010
Party: Labour Constituency: Glasgow Central Majority: 10,551 In Parliament since: May 2010
Life before Parliament: From a migrant family who settled in London’s East End, Ali moved to the UK from Bangladesh with her family when she was seven years old. Whilst studying for her degree at Oxford University she met Michael Young, famed for writing Labour’s 1945 manifesto, which led to research jobs with the renowned sociologist and later jobs in Parliament, the Institute for Public Policy Research, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Home Office and as Associate Director of the Young Foundation in Bethnal Green.
Life before Parliament: Born and raised in Glasgow, Anas, 27, is the son of retiring MP for his constituency, Mohammad Sarwar. He studied at Glasgow University and went on to work in the NHS as a dentist. As an active member of the Labour party since he was 16 he was the no.1 Glasgow Regional List candidate at the 2007 Scottish elections. He is the founder of Y-Vote, a political platform to engage young people in the political process.
In their words: My achievements are the achievements of the teachers and youth workers at Mulberry School and Tower Hamlets College. It was their belief in me that gave me my passports to opportunity. She also said “To millions of Bangladeshis around the world, it will mean so much to them that somebody of their background has been elected to the mother of all parliaments.”
In their words: "I got into politics to make a difference and hopefully have a positive influence on others around me." On the coalition: “I am willing to work with anybody who wants to fight for equality and justice not only here but right around the world.”
In the words of others: Simon Davis from the Evening Standard as far back as 2007, highlighted the “glamorous and savvy” Rushanara as one to watch. What you didn’t know about her: She was listed on the1 Guardian’s Muslim Women Power List, 2009. 14
In the words of others: “Sarwar possesses all the credentials to be a fine parliamentarian” says pulic affairs consultancy Fishburn Hedges. What you didn’t know about him: At 25 he visited Gaza to in a bid to raise awareness of the plight of the people there. In February 2009 Sarwar won The Scottish Sun’s, ‘Best New Scottish Politician’
Party: Labour Constituency: Tooting Majority: 2,524 In Parliament since: May 2005
Party: Labour Constituency: Bolton South East Majority: 8,634 In Parliament since: May 2010
Life before Parliament: Sadiq was born and raised in Tooting and has lived in the area all his life, after graduating from the College of Law in Guildford he became a human rights solicitor and founding partner of one of the country’s leading human rights firms. At 23 he was first selected Councillor for Tooting ward where he served until 2006. He was Chair of Liberty and Vice Chair of Legal Action Group. In their words: “Labour is, and always has been the Party of British Muslims, and indeed that of all religious and ethnic minorities.” Khan welcomes the doubling of Muslim MPs in this year’s election, making it the “most diverse Parliament in history.” In the words of others: PR Week labelled Khan as one to watch in March 2009, one whom ‘established himself as a rising star who is not afraid of ruffling a few feathers.’ What you didn’t know about him: In 2005 he was named ‘Newcomer of the Year' in the Parliamentarian of the Year Award by The Spectator Magazine.
REMAN CHISHTI Party: Conservative Constituency: Gillingham and Rainham Majority: 8,680 In Parliament since: May
Life before Parliament: Yasmin lives in Bolton and before parliament was a practising barrister in Manchester. She has previous experience working in the public sector for the Crown Prosecution Service and the Government Legal Service. Additionally, she headed up the Criminal Legal Section in the UN Mission in Kosovo and later became the Director of the Department of Judicial Administration there, she has also worked with Ken Livingstone as a human rights adviser. In their words: Speaking about the right for Muslim students to wear a headscarf at school: “It is a basic issue of human rights that individuals can observe their religion. It is essential that institutions including schools respect the right of people to wear religious and traditional dress.” In the words of others: “Formidably bright, unrepentantly leftish, outspoken – and – certainly one to watch,” commented the Manchester Evening News in 2007.
Life before Parliament: Born in Pakistan, Chishti has lived in the area for most of his life. Graduating from the University of Aberystwyth he was called to the Bar in 2001 and has since worked as a barrister in London. He was Special Adviser to the late Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan and diversity adviser to Francis Maude MP, former Chairman of the Conservative Party. In their words: On being elected; ‘A candidate is only as good as the team around him and I had the best team.’ In the words of others: 'He is a role model for politics, my loss is Gillingham's gain’, the late Benazir Bhutto, showing her high regard for him on her visit to Gillingham in 2007. What you don’t know: He contested Horsham for Labour in 2005 before defecting to the Conservative party in March 2006. Of his early school years, Rehman recalled, “I remember failing my Eleven-plus, it was very tough, but it made me even more determined to succeed”. 15
SAJID JAVID Party: Conservative
Party: Labour Constituency: Birmingham Ladywood Majority: 10,105 In Parliament since: May 2010
Constituency: Bromsgrove Majority: 11,308 In Parliament since: May 2010
Life before Parliament: Son of an immigrant bus driver, British born Sajid joined the Conservative Party whilst studying Economics and Politics at Exeter University. He went on to become Vice President of Chase Manhatten Bank in New York and then joined Deutsche Bank AG in London as senior Managing Director. He left the City in 2009 to pursue a career in politics. In his words: “What I am proud of is that a British born, son of an immigrant bus driver can go onto become an MP” writing on Conservativehome “Capitalism is essential for our prosperity and liberty”. In their words: “Sajid, I predict, will be the first Tory Muslim MP to sit in the Cabinet.” Tim Montgomerie, Editor, ConservativeHome.com What you didn't know: At 24 he became the youngest vice president of Chase Manhattan Bank, he also made history by becoming the Conservative Party’s first Muslim MP. Margaret Thatcher is his political hero.
Life before Parliament: The daughter of the Birmingham Labour Party’s chairman, Shabana is a self proclaimed “born and bred Brummie”, having lived in her constituency all her life. She completed her graduate degree at Oxford University subsequently becoming a barrister, and at 25 one of the younger MPs in Parliament. In her words: "The image of the voiceless Muslim woman who cannot leave the house is just not true: they are interested in politics. Parliament is for the people – all of the people – and the ethnic minority population should claim it." In their words: Shabana is “sure to have a significant impact on the future direction of the Labour Party...who will be needed to take the fight to the Conservatives in the year to come,” Andrew Hobson, Associate Director, Insight Public Affairs What you don’t know: Shabana succeeded the former cabinet minister Clare Short.
KHALID MAHMOOD Party:Labour Constituency: Birmingham Perry Barr Majority: 11,908
Life before Parliament: A graduate from the University of Central England Birmingham, Mahmood was a community worker prior to go into politics. Additionally, as a former engineer with a trade union background he became a Birmingham City Councillor 1990-1993 before he resigned his seat after leaving the city to work in Kuwait. In their words: In response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for some aspects of Sharia Law to be adopted in Britian; " This sort of talk makes people think Muslims want to separate themselves from the rest of the community and be treated differently. The truth is most Muslims do not want Sharia law...Muslims do not need special treatment or to be specially singled out. This would not contribute to community cohesion." In the words of others: ‘Khalid Mahmood MP makes no sense’, Pickled Politics What you don’t know: He resigned as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Home Office Minister, Tony McNulty in 2006 when it was revealed he had signed a letter calling for Tony Blair to step down as Prime Minister.
MOHAMMED AMIN IN THE SAMOSA
Mohammed Amin is a candidate for the role of Secretary General in the forthcoming Muslim Council of Britain Elections. What follows are selected extracts from an interview with Chaminda Jayanetti, Commissioning Editor at The Samosa. She’s an odd choice of dinner guest for the man who wants to lead the Muslim Council of Britain, but frothing newspaper columnist Melanie Phillips could find an invitation landing on her doorstep on June 21st. That is the day after the MCB elects its new secretary general, and if Mohammed Amin wins, Phillips – who issues dire warnings of the ‘Islamisation’ of Britain and calls for the government to give “no quarter” to the MCB – is on his invite list. “I would be perfectly happy to entertain her to dinner,” says Amin. “Not because I believe I can persuade her in one dinner to change her views, but I just think it’s important to understand what the other person really believes and thinks and to have a dialogue. “We can agree to differ as human beings; we don’t have to be throwing things at each other.” The statement typifies Amin’s bold approach. He sits on the MCB’s central working committee, but as current secretary general Muhammad Abdul Bari reaches his term limit, Amin – the first candidate ever to publicly declare an interest in the role – sees himself as an outsider looking to shake up British Islam’s main representative body. Amin on being made in England... Amin came to Britain with his working class parents at the age of two. Both his parents were illiterate, but he studied at Cambridge University and rose to become a senior tax partner with accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. “I speak English like a native, I think like a native in many ways. I have no memories of Pakistan; I was two when I came here. To me, home is here.” He feels this outlook will help him connect with British Muslims who don’t come from very traditional backgrounds: “There are enormous numbers of successful Muslim Oxbridge graduates, accountants, lawyers, bankers – and at the moment the MCB has very little connection with people like that.” Having recently retired, Amin promises to commit full-time to the role of secretary general. If elected, he says he will build links with British Muslim professionals to help swell the MCB’s coffers, and seek out affiliates from some of Britain’s newer Muslim communities, such as those from Turkey and Somalia. Amin on storm clouds on the horizon... Before the MCB plans for the long-term, however, David Cameron’s election as prime minister poses immediate challenges. Before the election, Cameron said the Conservatives would cut off formal relations with the MCB unless it distanced itself from its outspoken deputy secretary general, Daud Abdullah. The row over Dr Abdullah continues the fallout from his decision to sign the controversial Istanbul Declaration following the Gaza conflict last year. Critics said the statement was anti-Semitic and potentially called for attacks on British warships – claims strongly refuted by Dr Abdullah. Having been a left-winger in his student days, Amin is now vice-chair of the Conservative Muslim Forum. If Cameron tries to lock the MCB out of formal contact, Amin says his response as secretary 17
Images, from left to right: Mohammed Amin (right) greeting David Cameron with Lord Sheikh, Chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum, Amin speaking at a panel on managing faith in the workplace general would be to offer to clarify Dr Abdullah’s comments and the MCB’s corporate view. “But what is not up for negotiation,” he adds, “is the prime minister telling us who we can and cannot have as a democratically elected member of our body.” Not that Amin is a defender of Dr Abdullah, who is ineligible to re-stand for his current job but is likely to maintain an elected role within the MCB. Amin pointedly says he had “a full and frank exchange of views” with Dr Abdullah after he signed the Istanbul Declaration, while the MCB is changing its rules to ensure statements made by senior figures in a personal capacity do not contradict its agreed line. Amin on Education and Employment... But away from the kind of controversy-cum-circus that so often follows the MCB in the media, Amin’s real passion is to refocus the organisation on prosaic but crucial matters for Britain’s Muslim communities – education and employment. In terms of education, Amin is concerned that many inner city state schools – where most British Muslim children study – are “appalling”. “The reason why schools in leafy suburbs do well and schools in inner cities do badly isn’t funding; it’s aspiration among the teachers, aspiration amongst the children, attitudes of parents, and those are all things which are capable of change.” Amin wants to see parents of Muslim state school pupils taking more of a role in how those schools are run by becoming school governors. Under him, the MCB would communicate more with Muslim parents on how to raise their children’s standards and spread best practice between schools. “It’s a question of focus,” he says. “Actually putting real MCB attention and focus on that, rather than on reacting to hostile statements by government ministers.” His nuts-and-bolts approach to effecting change also shows through with his agenda to improve employment prospects for young British Muslims, working with groups such as Mosaic and the Adab Trust to mentor young Muslims and help them with training and career progression. As chair of the MCB’s business committee, he launched a mentoring scheme with the MCB youth committee. He believes a national mentoring programme for young Muslims could raise aspirations and encourage people to believe that they can get better jobs and careers. To read the full article please go to www.thesamosa.co.uk 18
ISLAM AND MUSLIMS IN THE MEDIA
A breakdown of some of the media appearances of Unitas clients and others in the past month MAY
Salman Ahmad - Rock Against Extremism - The Independent Jerome Taylor, religious correspondent of The Independent, profiles the man known as the 'Muslim Bono' who is part of the hugely successful Sufi rock band 'Junoon' and has sold 30 million albums. He is on a mission to show that music is a positive influence. "For the last 1,400 years there have been so many rich contributions towards culture from the Muslim community...And yet I have always had to confront this minority view, from extremely conservative mullahs, who believe that music is haram."
Sayeeda Warsi - Jew and Muslim and Conservative Co-Chairs - The Jewish Chronicle Sayeeda Warsi was this month nominated the first Muslim chair of the Conservative Party, alongside Andrew Feldman, a fashion tycoon and friend of David Cameron's.
Rima Fakih - Muslim Miss USA: Progress or Immodesty? - Huffington Post Rima Fakih's victory in the 2010 Miss USA pageant has generated huge press coverage. In this article editor of AltMuslim, Shahed Amanullah is quoted saying ""There's recognition among Muslims that this is not a traditionally Islamic way for a woman to dress...but in its own weird way, its progress."
Tehmina Kazi - Muslim children and the British school system - The Samosa The Director of the British Muslims for Secular Democracy, Tehmina Kazi used her article in The Samosa to discuss the negotiation between out of the classrooom religious commitments and inside the classroom necessities and the best ways for teachers to deal with that negotiation.
The Aga Khan - Spiritual head of the Ismaili Muslims returns to Toronto - The Star The spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslim community,The Aga Khan, will be in Toronto on Friday to mark the groundbreaking for the first museum of Islamic art and culture in North America, an Ismaili centre and park near Don Mills Rd. and Eglinton Ave.
Norah Titley - Scholar of Islamic Painting - The Times The Times published an obituary of one of the finest scholars of Islamic Painting in the world, who was in charge of one of the greatest collections of such painting at the British Museum. The collection is now housed at the British Museum.
DIALOGUE IMAGE CREDITS
David Cameron: bisgovuk, Nick Clegg: Liberal Democrat Party, Ground Zero: Chad Davis, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: plasmatik, Lahore High Court: Omer Wazir, Mark Zuckerberg: Deney Terrio, Natanz Nuclear Facility: Hamed Saber, Thai Redhshirts: plasmatik, Thai Soliders: Brett Marlow, New York Protest: asterix_611. 19
Some key dates for your diary in the next month
John Simpson @ The Hay Festival Pervez Musharraf, former President of Pakistan, will already have made his appearance at the Hay festival by the time you read this magazine. John Simpson could be just as illuminating however, as he discusses his new book on how the 20th Century was reported, and looks back on a lengthy career in journalism. www.hayfestival.com
The Nature of Evil @ The Insitute of Contemporary Arts Acclaimed Norwegian philosopher and academic, Lars Svendsen, discusses the fact that despite the overuse of the word in movies, political speeches, and news reports, "evil" is generally seen as either flagrant rhetoric or else an outdated concept: a medieval holdover with no bearing on our complex everyday reality. www.ica.org.uk
Professor Paul Collier: A new approach to international development @ The Ideas Space Paul Collier is one of the world’s leading authorities on the problems that bedevil developing countries and which prevent them from pulling themselves out of poverty. He will be speaking about his recent work and sharing his views on the key issues currently facing policymakers working in the field of international development. www.policyexchange.org.uk
Robert McCrum in Conversation with Henry Hitchings @ Daunt Books, 7pm Robert McCrum’s latest book, Globish, traces the evolution and influence of the English language. “Robert McCrum argues, brilliantly and provocatively, that England’s greatest contribution to the world is English. The empire may be gone but Globish explains why the language still rules.” (Malcolm Gladwell) Henry Hitchings is the author of The Secret Life of Words – How English Became English, which won the John Llewellyn Rhys prize, and which Ben Macintyre described as “a fascinating exploration of the rich borrowings, exchanges and couplings of language.” Tickets are £8 by telephone (020 7224 2295).
England Expects @ The British Film Institute The late Frank Deasy chronicled masculinity on the edge in works like The Grass Arena and Real Men; this characteristically intense drama charts one man’s disintegration into explosive racist violence. Mackintosh’s seething Ray may be recognisably in the mould of Travis Bickle or Made in Britain’s Trevor, but the bleak, brutal England Expects is very much here and now. The lead isLarry, the far-right politician courting respectability (sound familiar?). www.bfi.org.uk
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